Congress MP Rahul Gandhi Monday told the Supreme Court that the allegations against him that he wrongfully confined and raped a woman in his Amethi Lok Sabha constituency were an act of "sinister political mudslinging".
"It is a clear case of sinister political mudslinging against a promising young leader of the country," senior counsel P.P. Rao, appearing for Gandhi, told the apex court bench of Justice B.S. Chauhan and Justice Swatanter Kumar.
The court was hearing a petition by Kishore Smrite who made allegations, based on a website report, that on Dec 3, 2006, while on a tour of his constituency in Uttar Pradesh, Gandhi along with his six friends committed rape of a woman and detained her illegally.
The Allahabad High Court earlier dismissed Smrite's petition, ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation probe against him and imposed a cost of Rs.50 lakh.
Contesting the maintainability of Smrite's plea against the high court order, Rao told the judges that no petition could lie against the high court order unless the alleged aggrieved parties - the woman and her parents - too were the petitioners before the apex court.
Smrite contended that a division bench of the high court could not have called the matter pending before the single judge and passed an order behind his back without issuing notice to him and giving him an opportunity of being heard.
The division bench verdict was delivered on a petition by Amethi resident Gajinder Pal Singh.
Appearing for the Uttar Pradesh government, senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi told the court that Smrite, while filing the petition before the high court in 2011, concealed the fact that a habeas corpus petition seeking the presentation of the alleged rape victim and her parents that was filed by a local lawyer in 2009 was dismissed.
Dwivedi told the court that Smrite gave the address of the victim which upon inquiry by police was found to be "factitious and non-existent."
However, counsel for Uttar Pradesh agreed with the court that the division bench could not have called the petition pending before another judge and, even if it did so, Smrite should have been given a notice and an opportunity to be heard.
In another query, the apex court asked Dwivedi if the high court could impose such a huge cost. "How can you explain the kind of cost? Even if it is to be exemplary, can you impose a cost which is beyond the paying capacity," asked the court.
Appearing for Gajender Pal Singh, senior counsel K.T.S. Tulsi told the court that Smrite went before the court with "unclean hands" and admitted to committing the "offence against the legal system".
Additional Solicitor General Harin Raval told the apex court that Smrite's allegations are false and his litigation was funded by others.
Raval told the court that he received money in cash which he deposited in his bank account to pay his lawyers through cheques.
ASG Raval told the court that all the three websites that carried the alleged report on Gandhi were located outside the country. The apex court had stayed the operation of the high court order in April.
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